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Mourning doves and morning, after my daughter died

mourning dove bird sitting on nest egg


Jennifer Hubbard - published on 05/31/23

The mama and her nest proclaim to me morning will come to my mourning ...

The mama is back. This year she tucked her nest securely into the column’s entablature in the corner of my front porch. Her return is always the same. It starts with the mama’s call.  Her trill joins the voices of the front yard flock that stream through my slightly cracked bedroom window. Their songs sound of tambourines and their fluttering looks like a triumphal entry dance celebrating spring’s defeat of winter’s brittle winds.

At first, I watch the mama from the window, captivated by how she toils and tucks into her emerging nest. As the days warm and when opening the front door doesn’t send her flying, the rocker under her perch becomes the space where I pray, and she sits.

The spring after Catherine died, the birds calling and a precariously balanced nest on the porch light caused my pause. I could hear my little one’s voice as it was years before.  She had nestled in between my parents as dawn was breaking. Amid their chatter of what that day’s visit would bring, my mother whispered, “Catherine, listen, it’s the mourning doves.” 

I hadn’t thought about it much until I realized that which sang from my porch and built the precariously perched nest – the mama – she is a mourning dove.  The very one who assures me morning has broken carries the crown of mourning. 

You see, while spring delivers an abundance of new life, I brace knowing there will be some semblance of grief’s return.  Spring is when Catherine’s loss is palatable; budding flowers and fawns, farm stalls’ newborns, and forest hatchlings point me directly to her heart. 

At first the nest on the porch caught my attention in the knowing it would have captivated Catherine’s heart. And now, now she is a way finder to my Creator. Year after year, despite the conditions of the world, the mama is steadfast. She builds with focus and care. Some years the nest is securely tucked in and others it is perilously balanced. Yet, without fail, the eggs hatch and the fledglings fly, and new life emerges.

The mama and her nest proclaim to me morning will come to my mourning.  And so it is with my heart. In the battle between my wanting to succumb to the mourning and my beating heart longing to remain steadfast to my Lord, in His goodness and in His timing, morning He does break.  


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

DeathThe Human Being Fully Alive
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